A fun little profile of Theresa Christy, a mathematician with Otis Elevator Co. whose job it is to make sure elevators work in the most efficient way possible. Who says math can’t be fun?
Here is a typical problem: A passenger on the sixth floor wants to descend. The closest car is on the seventh floor, but it already has three riders and has made two stops. Is it the right choice to make that car stop again? That would be the best result for the sixth-floor passenger, but it would make the other people’s rides longer.
It’s not always that simple, though. In Asian countries, more people will get on an elevator than will space-hungry Americans. And different cultures have different psychological expectations for what should happen when they push the call button.
It’s fun to find science in unexpected places. Oh, and she answers that classic question: Does the “door close” button actually do anything?